We spoke with Tim Daugherty, CEO of Millar, joins us in the studio to talk about their remote pressure monitors and their application in various medical procedures. We also talk about the role of technology in medicine.
Please ignore any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to Texas Business Radio, texasbusinessradio.com is the Web site. I’m your host Matt Register, here as always Jay Curry over in the co-host chair. We’re talking medical devices. The medical industry in Texas is big. Everybody with the means in the entire world that gets a bad diagnosis makes their way to Houston, Texas to the Texas Medical Center. It’s the place to go. But we’re talking about devices. There are industries that, that surround the medical industry in Texas, that provide devices, that provide services, that make the medical industry in Texas what it is. And we’re going to highlight some of those guys today. We have in the studio, we have Tim Daugherty, who is the president and CEO of Millar. Which is a device company that makes pressure sensors. Coming from the energy sector we understand pressure sensors. This is the identical thing except really small.
Jay Curry: Much smaller.
Matt Register: You put it in brains and hearts. Right? Tim welcome to the show.
Tim Daugherty: Thanks guys. Glad to be here.
Matt Register: So talk to me a little bit about Millar.
Tim Daugherty: So, Millar is a 47 year old, Texas based company and we manufacture precision medical devices. With the focus of improving high fidelity clinical evaluations and advancing medical science understanding around the world. So, our goal is to improve patient outcomes and help scientists learn more about the medical world as a whole. And we do this through developing pressure unlabeled catheters, pressure volume systems, implantable telemetry devices and importantly partnering with OEM companies to take the Millar pressure sensor and our wireless power technology and incorporating into their own devices.
Matt Register: Now, very simply, just to make sure I understand this. You’re talking about very, very small, tiny sensors that are standalone, there wireless. They don’t need need wires. That you’re now able to implant these things places that they couldn’t before.
Tim Daugherty: Correct.
Matt Register: Is that accurate? And what is the application of that? You know, practically speaking, at what point, what, when are your devices used and what problem do they solve?
Tim Daugherty: So our primary market as Millar is the cardiovascular market. So people go undergoing heart failure. These are cardiologists doing clinical research or are working on their own new device. And so they utilize our pressure sensor that’s placed at the end of a catheter. They place it right inside the heart or we have neuroscience, it’s that place that right inside the brain. So after traumatic brain injury they want to know what’s the pressure inside your head. Do they need to…
Matt Register: Sure that becomes pretty important, though. Right?
Tim Daugherty: It does. It’s something you need.
Matt Register: So and this device tells them the pressure. Too much, they know to go relieve that pressure.
Matt Register: Correct.
Matt Register: So it solves a lot of problems for a lot of people. Is that accurate? Now some of the technology in there is pretty specialized and is use, you know, used in other devices. People are coming to you wanting to use some of that technology. Tell me a little bit about, because you have wireless powered, wirelessly powered. So walk me through that.
Tim Daugherty: So that’s relatively new to the company. In 2011 we acquired a company in Auckland, New Zealand of all places and they specialized in the transfer of power wirelessly. So there’s companies developing heart pumps or other devices and they want to implant it below the skin. And the number one cause of infection and deaths with those devices, is infection around the drive line. And so, the idea is we want to eliminate that drive line. Deliver power to that device wirelessly, so it can be fully implanted, the patient can go around their business. And when they need to basically sit down recharge the device and then get up and walk around. And so as a company we’re trying to take that wireless power technology and working with other companies developing heart pumps and other devices to help them take that to market.
Matt Register: Well this is, this is very interesting stuff. And this is used more places than I thought. This is, this is pretty fascinating. Talk to me a little bit about the device industry in Texas. You know, the medical, do you, actually executing medicine. Right? To the docs and the hospitals and the medical centers in Texas are absolutely world class. The development ecosystem for the devices though, is not quite there.
Tim Daugherty: Nope.
Matt Register: Tell me a little bit about, about what you’re saying and that.
Tim Daugherty: Yeah, so, it’s, it’s an interesting conundrum. You’ve got the best medical center in the world, right here in Houston but you don’t have a huge plethora of start ups or established device companies. There’s a few of us here that have been here a long time and continue to work with the other, with the med center and other people around the world. But we are seeing a change, we’re seeing more investment, we’re seeing, for example Johnson and Johnson’s J labs are getting started here in town. So you’re seeing that kind of ecosystem of people supporting the startups and the bankers and investment coming to help leverage what we’ve got here with the med center. And we really look forward to that because we want to see the device industry in Houston and in Texas as a whole grow. Because selfishly, as a company, we’d love to be able to recruit more talent from people here in town. And so we’re following it anxiously, as well as we’re here to support and help other companies grow as much as we can.
Matt Register: Yeah, every company kind of benefits from that. Right? When the, when the, when the ecosystem is here.
Jay Curry: What about funding? I mean this has got to be expensive and we’re a capitalistic, you know. How do you get the funding? Got a kind of interesting story about it.
Tim Daugherty: Yeah. So, as a private company, we’ve traditionally always done all our product development and R&D out of cash flow. So that’s challenging.
Jay Curry: Oh, that’s tough.
Tim Daugherty: It is. It is challenging and we chose to play in a FDA regulated environment, which makes it more challenging. So for us, you know, we look for opportunities from grants, whether it’s the NIH or Department of Defense. So we try to say we’re developing a novel technology. Sometimes we partner with other companies here in town. Combine our two technologies and we’ll go and apply for NIH funding to show how those two technologies will improve patient outcomes long term. And that is a source of funding for us as a company.
Matt Register: Well and it’s interesting, there’s a lot of people that have problems there trying to solve. Department of Defense, you know, being a former infantry guy, you know, well understand the, the need to improve the ability for docs on the, as close to the front line as humanly possible, to be able to get the data that they need to be able to make decisions. Right?
Tim Daugherty: Correct.
Matt Register: And what you’re finding is some of this technology you guys have developed is very applicable to that. Correct?
Tim Daugherty: Correct. Yeah. So we see our wireless platform and our pressure sensing capability is something where, for some applications on the battlefield. Where we’re looking at solutions, where we can give those guys a quick way to diagnose injury, make a decision fast and even monitor that pressure over time wirelessly. So that when the patient finally gets evacuated and lands at a hospital, they’ve got a record of what happened during that transport.
Jay Curry: So a big part of this is bringing technology into those medical devices and making them smaller. And using, instead of wires, using the wireless. And really staying at the state of the art, both in the medical devices and medicine but also just in the general technology field and trying to merge those together. That’s got to be a real challenge.
Tim Daugherty: Yeah, and it’s, I think it’s what we love to leverage, what’s going on in consumer technology. You know, you see cell phones getting smaller. Everything’s getting faster. So we love to take what other industries are doing and apply it to what we’re doing as much as possible. Because we’re, as an FDA regulated group, devices sometimes lag behind the state of the art. But as a company we’re trying to keep up with that, as fast as we can.
Matt Register: Well, hey, God bless America. You find a hole and fill it. Right? Find a need. And that generally pays well, if you can find a solution to somebodies problem. And everybody is constantly looking for ways to improve patient outcomes and that’s exactly what you guys do on a daily basis. Right?
Tim Daugherty: Yes.
Jay Curry: So we talked a little bit about Texas versus the United States. Talk a little bit about, your worldwide. Right? What do you see going on outside the U.S.?
Tim Daugherty: Yeah. So, we sell in the U.S. and Europe. And we see, still the U.S. is the number one market to go after. With Europe as close second. But what we really see is Asia, especially China, as a growing market for us. So we know that’s something we’ve got to factor into our future because there’s going to be a time where the number of cases over there will dwarf what’s going on in the U.S.. And so we’ve got to be ready to go after that. And part of that we’ve opened an office down in Sydney, Australia is our Asia-Pacific office, to leverage for that for the future. So we want to use that to spread word…
Jay Curry: You got to be big. Huh?
Tim Daugherty: Correct.
Jay Curry: Got to be a big future there.
Matt Register: Well and I tell you what, that opens up a whole another can of worms. When you’re talking about different regulatory agencies in different areas. And you guys got to get smart on how to get that stuff passed and able to, to be used all over the world, I guess. Huh?
Tim Daugherty: Yeah and the standards are different but they’re harmonizing and coming together. But it is a challenge always because one country is different and has a different requirements. So it’s just part of, part of the business in medical devices.
Matt Register: So cardiologist, neurologist, who else, who else uses your product?
Tim Daugherty: So we did recently expand our indication for use for compartment pressure. So we’re looking at some orthopedic applications for lower extremity injuries, providing better data there. As well as airway studies and sleep studies. So pulmonologists and people looking at sleep apnea, for example. Research in that area.
Matt Register: Interesting. Hey, very, very interesting stuff. I’m not a medical guy but it’s fascinating to me. And this is a industry in Texas that impacts a lot of the economy in Texas.
Jay Curry: All over Texas. Absolutely.
Matt Register: No doubt. Tim Daugherty, president and CEO of Millar out of Houston. Thank you for joining us, very much.
Tim Daugherty: Thanks guys.
Jay Curry: A wonderful story.
Matt Register: Yeah and Millar.com. Guys, we’re going to have that linked right from Texasbusinessradio.com, if you want to learn more about this very interesting company. Thank you very much for joining us. Guys, we do have to go pay some bills. We’ve got to go earn some money ourselves. We’re going to be back right after this break. We’re talking medical devices. We had a whole lot more. So don’t go anywhere. We’ll be back, right after this.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.